Corn Commentary

Ohio Corn Growers Helping Educate Farmers

Ohio Corn GrowersIt’s always good to see what the various state corn grower organizations are doing. Right now the Ohio Corn Growers Association have a nice building getting lots of activity on the grounds of the Farm Science Review. One of their board members has been involved with it for many years. He’s Ron Rockhold, pictured on the right. Ron says he farms in southern Fayette County and has been on the board for going on 20 years. He spends one day working in the exhibit and one day with his brother “taking in the sights.”

Ron says this show is a great thing for agriculture. He says the message they’re trying to get across to growers is what’s happening with legislation, especially the farm bill and the rfs standard. In fact, he says, “. . . talking about the RFS which is even more important than the farm bill because it increases the demand for corn and has raised the price of corn to where farmers are getting their money from the market now instead of from the government.” That’s something he says he’s always wanted to see.

You can listen to my interview with Ron here:

Ethanol Means Rural Prosperity

Many people support ethanol because it’s a cleaner fuel than gasoline, better for the environment and helps us reduce our dependency on foreign oil. But it really means much more to our nation than even those important reasons.

NE Corn“It’s about small town diners, grocery stores, schools, libraries and churches,” said Don Hutchens, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board. “Ethanol, by being produced across rural Nebraska and rural America, benefits all of these community-based businesses and groups. It does this by generating economic activity and taxes, which touches nearly every business, school and organization in town.”

Hutchens said the rural development aspect to ethanol should not be overlooked. “Ethanol production is well-suited to smaller communities, places that some people haven’t heard of,” he said. “Yet we all benefit because of the clean-burning fuel the ethanol plants produce. They add to our fuel supply and reduce oil imports, which saves us all money at the pump.”

To celebrate ethanol – and all renewable fuels – and what they contribute to Nebraska and the country as a whole, Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman will declare September Renewable Fuels Month at Husker Harvest Days this Wednesday.

Colorado Corn Celebrates E85 Openings

Colorado Corn Growers are celebrating the grand openings of new E85 fueling stations opening in the Centennial State this month.

The events will take place at the Eagle Travel Stop in Sterling on September 16 and Western Convenience in Montrose on September 23.

The Colorado Corn Growers Association is joining with the Governor’s Biofuels Coalition to help sponsor the events which will feature live remotes, hot dogs, refreshments, flex-fuel vehicles and fuel promotions.

The addition of these two new E85 facilities will bring the total of E85 stations in the state to 70.

Corn at AgNite

The Minnesota Corn Growers Association was one of the top five sponsors for the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council AgNite event on Tuesday, held in conjunction with the Republican National Convention in the Twin Cities.

“The top five platinum sponsors are all Minnesota-based companies or organizations and we were thrilled that they came on board early to sponsor the event,” said council executive director Daryn McBeth. “The food and ag industry is important, it’s Minnesota’s second largest industry, it’s as far away as your next meal and we felt that with this opportunity with so many influencers and media in town for the convention, that in a non-partisan way we could take advantage of that and showcase this important industry.”

The venue and set-up for the event was nothing short of spectacular and extremely well done. The historic Minnesota Depot was skirted on the outside with potted corn stalks and inside the 60,000 square foot area was dotted with comfortable seating around video screens where those attending could just relax and enjoy the food and refreshments while taking in some information about the various agricultural sponsors. Unlike a trade show, it allowed people to take it all in just by the atmosphere. And it showed that agriculture could really throw one heck of a high-class party. There are always multiple outside evening events at political conventions, but the AgNite event was “the go-to” party that evening.

That was a relief to the organizers, who did have some concerns over the weekend when Hurricane Gustav threatened to wash out their plans. But, as it turned out, the attendance for the invitation-only event exceeded all expectations. As someone said, “What if you threw a party and everyone showed up?” Maybe not everybody – I don’t think John McCain made it – but the organizers were still quite pleased with the turnout.

United State for Agriculture

The AgNite event sponsored by the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council on the second night of the Republican National Convention was a model of what agriculture should be nationwide – united.

Agribusiness companies and organizations of all stripes united to showcase the food, fuel and agriculture industries for the delegates and policy makers in the Twin Cities for the convention. The event’s top sponsors included the Minnesota Corn Growers, CHS, Land O’ Lakes, Hormel and AgStar – growers, food processors, co-ops – the meat industry and the grain industry … everyone put their differences aside, both political and policy, for at least one evening to unite for agriculture. Unofficial estimates put the crowd during the night at over 4,000 – a tremendous turnout that exceeded expectations. It was a beautiful thing.

Let’s keep that momentum going.

Agriculture Celebration Planned for RNC

AgNiteAgriculture will be in the spotlight for thousands attending the Republican National Convention next week.

The Minnesota Agri-Growth Council is hosting AgNite, a celebration of America’s food and agriculture industry, Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2008, during the second night of the RNC in the Twin Cities. The evening event will showcase the food, agriculture and energy industries in a unique and exciting club atmosphere in the historic Minneapolis Depot’s impressive 60,000-square-foot venue. Guests will also experience some of the best networking, food, drink and entertainment in town.

MN CornAgNite is a non-partisan invitation-only event that will include over 3,000 guests, delegates, policymakers, news media and industry leaders. The event is being made possible by dozens of sponsors from Minnesota and across the country, including the Minnesota Corn Growers.

AgNite is basically taking the place of “The Great American Farm Breakfast,” which is normally held at the RNC but for some reason was canceled this time.

Here’s Your Sign

You probably are familiar with comedian Bill Engvall’s signature bit “Here’s your sign” that pokes fun at people who ask dumb questions to which the answers should be obvious.

The next time someone asks, “Why should we support domestic production of ethanol?” – here’s their sign, courtesy of the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council. They have several others as part of an advertising campaign that started earlier this month encouraging supporters to “sign up for ethanol.”

The campaign highlights the role of ethanol in increased energy security, economic development and decreased gas prices.

The goal for the group is to get at least 4,000 state residents to register their support at the web site but the website has been attracting hundreds of ethanol supporters nationwide. Names of people from at least 25 other states are listed on the website ethanol supporter scroll. States from east to west and north to south are represented – including California, New York, Florida, New Hampshire, Washington, Arizona and more.

Check it out and add your name to the list.

MO Governor Checks Out Food Prices

Missouri State Fair-goers last week got an education about the cost of corn in their everyday food items.

Featuring a “Price Is Right” themed game, the Missouri Corn Growers booth in the Agriculture Building challenged consumers to guess the value of corn in various grocery items including milk, eggs, beef, pork, chicken, soda and corn flakes. According to MCGA Communications Director Becky Grisham, “With inaccurate accusations blaming corn for rising food costs, consumers were surprised to find that most items’ retail prices were largely unconnected to the value of corn needed to produce them.”

“The vast majority of questions and comments regarding corn and ethanol have been positive,” Grisham reported. “Most importantly, attendees are walking away with a better understanding of corn farmers’ ability to produce feed, food and fuel.”

Even Missouri Governor Matt Blunt stopped by the booth to play the game. No word on how well he did.

Kansas Corn Helps Launch Blender Pump Program

Kansas Corn CommissionKansas is now the second state to lead the nation in raising public awareness for higher blends of ethanol as the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC), ICM and the Kansas Corn Commission Monday launched a blender pump incentive program for the Sunflower State.

EPIC“Today is a great day for Kansas as we help the ethanol industry expand higher blends of ethanol through blender pumps while also giving consumers a break at the pump and allowing them to use a product produced right here in Kansas,” said Kansas Corn Commission Chairman, Bob Timmons. “This program will help strengthen our economy by encouraging blender pump infrastructure development, and take us one step closer to weakening our dependence on foreign oil.”

The initiative will help fuel station retailers obtain funding and the equipment needed to sell higher blends of ethanol, which range from E20 to E50 and can only be used in FFVs. One of the main goals is to increase the state’s blender pump infrastructure by installing a minimum of 100 blender pumps over the next year. Currently, three blender pumps are open in the state thanks to a pilot program adopted by the Kansas Department of Agriculture that made Kansas one of the first states in the nation to allow ethanol blender pumps.

Earlier this year, the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council launched a similar program.

Alice in Ethanol Land

Wisconsin’s Alice in Dairyland must be feeling like she is in Wonderland now driving the state in a brand new, fully-loaded E85 compatible Chevy Tahoe courtesy of the Wisconsin Corn Promotion Board and General Motors.

Ashley Huibregtse is serving as the 61st Alice in Dairyland. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where she earned her degree in Elementary Education and Communications. As a public relations specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Alice in Dairyland annually travels the equivalent of a trip around the world during her 12-month tour.

“It’s very appropriate that our state agricultural ambassador starts her year-long, statewide drive at an ethanol plant and that she does so driving our ethanol-fueled car,” says Ken Rosenow, Wisconsin Corn Promotion Board President and corn grower from Oconomowoc. “Having Alice in Dairyland drive the Wisconsin Corn Promotion Board’s E-85 Chevy Tahoe while she promotes agriculture across the state is the perfect symbol of how corn-based ethanol drives our state’s economy in an economical, fuel-efficient and renewable manner.”

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